D.L. STEWART: Tired of the daily grind? Talk to your gadget!


Because walking across a room or tapping on a keyboard requires way too much energy, technology is providing exciting new solutions to rescue us from the brink of our daily exhaustion — digital assistants.

As the Associated Press reported this week, “From your couch you, you can now ask the Echo’s Alexa assistant to play your favorite music or check the weather. You can order pizza, track flights or play Jeopardy.”

The story went on to forecast a time when every American home will be blessed with devices such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Home that will turn on or off our lights, turn up or down our thermostats, lock or unlock our doors and water our shrubs without us straining anything other than our vocal cords. All we’ll have do is speak to our voice-activated gadgets.

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This news comes not a minute too soon. Just the other evening, for instance, I ordered a pizza. Because I don’t have a digital assistant I was forced to pick up my phone, tap the speed-dial number and tell the person at the pizza place I wanted a medium deep dish with pepperoni and mushrooms. By the time I got done I was, as you can imagine, sucking wind. In fact, it was only through the sheer force of will that I was able to summon the strength to get off the couch and unlock the door when the delivery guy came.

Not only will digital assistants make our lives easier, they will enrich them in ways we never thought possible. If you have Google Home, for example, you can sit on your couch and ask it to make animal noises. I can’t tell you how often I felt the need to hear a goat while I was sitting on my couch.

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Virtual assistants can help in conflict resolutions, too. Let’s say you and your spouse can’t agree on whose turn it is to take out the garbage. One way would be to flip a coin, but the only coins you have are stuck down under the cushions of your couch, which would require you to get up off the couch to retrieve them. With Google Home, all you’d have to do is say, “OK Google, flip a coin for us” and it will respond with “heads” or “tails.” Which clearly is well worth the $129 you paid for it.

But perhaps the ultimate energy saver is the Amazon Echo feature that enables you to sync with your Fitbit fitness tracker. Just say “Hey Alexa, how many steps have I taken today?” If you’ve taken full advantage of your digital assistant, her answer will be: “Zero.”



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